Meeting Notes OSTPDX Nov 14, 2017
Health Care Reform for the Perplexed
48 people attended. Lynn Youngbar, evening’s facilitator, member of the leadership team announced leadership transition. Thanked Jeff Hammarlund for his service as interim lead and introduced Mary Chaffin, Jacque Abel, Phyllis Brown and herself as a shared leadership team that will fill the role of lead of OSTPDX.
Lisa Miller, passed the hat for contributions to cover the cost of room rental and event insurance. We collected $157.
Lynn thanked all the members of OSTPDX who participated in Tuesday elections – our group members phone banked and canvassed for Washington State Candidate Manka Dhingra; her successful campaign led to flipping the WA state Senate. Our group also wrote postcards for Mike Mullins state legislative race in Virginia; he was also successful.
Lynn shared a reflection by Mike Houck, long-time Portland activist Endless pressure endlessly applied as a reminder of our long term commitment to progressive causes.
Lynn also reminded the group to consider contributing to the Senate campaign of Doug Jones in Alabama who is in a tight, winnable race for Jeff Session’s seat.
Lynn announced no meeting in December. Tuesday January 9 we will host Senator Michael Dembrow who will discuss the upcoming legislative session.
Phyllis Introduced Dr. Sam Metz long-time health policy and political activist, who spoke on Single Payer Health Care.
Dr. Metz posed three questions:
- Why do we need single payer health care
- What are we trying to achieve
- How do we get there
Why we need Single Payer Health Care
- US spends twice as much as other industrialized countries on health care
- Over all our health outcomes are worse
- Health care expenses are one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy
- Cause of Labor v Management disputes over health care benefits
What are we trying to achieve
- Health Care Access – no matter what employment status – working, fired or retired
- Decrease Cost (need to consider total costs from taxes, premiums, out of pocket, etc.)
- Better outcomes (most industrialized countries have better health outcomes on nearly all measures than US)
How do we get there
- Every other industrialized country can provide better care, to all citizens for less cost
- All other industrialized countries have universal access – All citizens covered, no one can opt out, everyone has comprehensive care, all treatable diseases get treatment, any patient can see any provider, providers paid for value of service
- Some countries have multiple private insurance (Swiss); however, European insurance not same as American
- European Insurance – Everyone pays the same amount for coverage whether sick or healthy, young or old, must cover patient for all treatable conditions, will pay any provider
- In European system, insurance companies have to compete on price, benefits and service
- In US insurance requires expensive administrative support, about 20% of premiums
- Physicians need extra staff to fill out all of the forms.
- Single payer much more cost efficient – In Taiwan single payer system administrative costs 1.5 % in US 20 %
- Single Payer is more efficient because only one network, same coverage, everyone covered
- With single payer, insurance companies are incentivized to keep people healthy
What can be done in US
- Each state has option to create single payer system
- Same was true in Canada – one province established single payer then it spread to all provinces
- There is no national organization yet in US, still a grassroots effort, join Healthcare-Now! or Physicians for a National Health Plan to join grassroots effort
Recommended reading – TR Reid: Healing of America
Some questions from audience
Does cost of litigation drive health care cost in US?
About 50 billion in excess cost due to litigation. Total cost of health care in US about 30 Trillion. Tremendous savings can be derived from decreasing administrative cost of 400 billion
Why resistance to single payer?
It is the largest industry in US. No motivation to reform on part of health care industry. Extremely complex industry that doesn’t follow the usual supply and demand – as cost of health care go up, need for health care doesn’t change
What can we do at the state level?
Join Health Care for All Oregon, planning ballot measure in 2020 need to educate public about importance
Final quote from chairman of AETNA – American health care is doomed. We need to find a new way.
Small Group Actions:
Single Payer Small group
Lead by Dr. Peter Mahr head of Physicians for National Health Plan Oregon
- Join Physicians for National Health Plan, do not need to be a physician or health care provider. Can sign up on line at pnhp.org
Join Health Care for all Oregon at www.hcao.org
- Federal Level
- Medicare for All Bernie Sanders senate bill 1804 Medicare for All Act of 2017 – Merkley has co-sponsored, Wyden has not. Write postcard or call Wyden’s office here is the script, modify as desired:
“Dear Senator Wyden,
Healthcare is the number one concern of voters across the country. Our current system is the most expensive in the world and still leaves tens of millions uninsured or underinsured. Our health outcomes are poor compared to other industrialized countries.
Senator Sanders recently introduced SB 1804 or “The Medicare for All Act of 2017” which would provide affordable access to healthcare for everyone, reduce healthcare costs over the long term and lead to better health outcomes. Senator Merkley is a cosponsor of the bill. I urge you to join Senator Merkley and cosponsor SB 1804.”
- Also House of Representatives has a Medicare for all bill HR 676 Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader are the only Oregon representatives who have not co-sponsored. If you are their constituent, write post card edit script as noted above.
- State Level Actions
- Single payer bill next legislative session will be sponsored by Mitch Greenlick.
Write a resolution from OSTPDX in support of Single Payer Health care. Our group can also join coalition of other groups that are a part of HACO. Will then be in loop to prepare for 2020 ballot measure in support of Single Payer Health care.
- Can also send a resolution to Lorretta Smith and Sharon Meiran to support Single Payer Health Care. County commissioners are interested in supporting single payer health care.
- If an owner of small business join Main Street Alliance, business group in support of single payer.
Yes on Measure 101
Ethan Krow, political organizer for the Yes on Measure 101 campaign outlined some basic information about this vital state ballot measure that affects all Oregonians.
The Oregon legislature passed a bipartisan bill to continue assessments on insurance companies, hospitals and healthcare providers in the last session. Oregon first started using provider assessments like the one in Measure 101 in 2004, and they are used in 48 other states as well. The funding from this legislation, which was signed into law, will support Oregon’s Medicaid programs. The plan was developed by healthcare experts, doctors, nurses, patient advocates, AARP, unions and hospitals. The providers are not opposing this assessment.
This plan guarantees 95% of Oregonians, including children, seniors and people with disabilities, maintain access to healthcare. It will also be used to reduce premium costs for those who buy their own coverage. This funding is crucial in this time of healthcare cutbacks at the federal level, such as Congress’ refusal to continue CHIP funding, which helps cover kids on the Oregon Health Plan as well as around the country.
Republican-led Ballot Measure 101 seeks to overturn this law via a special election that will be held on Jan. 23, 2018. It will be the only item on the ballot. Few voters are aware of the special election or know that Ballot Measure 101 must pass with a majority voting YES for the existing law to stay in place. A million Oregonians, including 400,000 children, who count on Medicaid, will continue to receive health care coverage. Premiums will stay lower for those buying health insurance.
The group discussed the following actions to take regarding Measure 101 and recommend all members of One Small Thing also do them:
- Go on the website yesforhealthcare.org and learn more.
- On the website, share your personal stories about the importance of access to healthcare to yourself, family or others.
- Spread the word about the importance of voting YES on 101 through your networks via facebook, other social media, email, or conversation.
- Sign up on the website to help with the campaign to pass 101. A kick-off event for canvassing is happening on December 3. We need to get voters out who will vote YES on 101.
Support ACA Enrollment
Dr. Smitha Chadaga, Co-Chair of Oregon Health Insurance Project and Policy Team lead for Indivisible Oregon, provided background about the challenges surrounding ACA enrollment under the Trump Administration:
- Some people think the ACA is gone
- Enrollment period cut in half from 90 days to 45 days
- 90% of the enrollment budget has been cut
- 50% cut in the number of health care navigators
But, the good news:
- Initial enrollment numbers are ahead of last year’s
- Subsidies have been increased and 75% of those eligible will be able to get a plan for less than $100/month
- People currently insured under ACA need to check to see if current plan is still appropriate
- You don’t need to be an expert on ACA to help; just direct people towards the info they need
Four actions to take:
- Send an email to your contacts letting them know about ACA enrollment. Script provided here: https://goo.gl/9NCRLR. Best to send the email the first week in December, right before enrollment ends on Dec. 15
- Distribute flyers about ACA. Flyers provided here: https://goo.gl/GnXWDz.
- Canvass. Suggestions and script provided here: https://goo.gl/GdJjgy
- Get the word out via social Scripts and links here: https://goo.gl/M6dAoG , https://goo.gl/yjue4a , https://goo.gl/kMEoBE , https://goo.gl/egrVu7, https://getamericacovered.org/takeaction , https://ormarketplace.wufoo.com/forms/qnybyx21sznq9a/ , https://covered.indivisible.org/#lp-pom-block-226 , https://www.getamericacovered.org